Lieutenant Colonel Charles Milne
158th (Milne’s Men) Battalion
When the boys go marching through that mud, filth and slime under their pack, singing with that forced and indefinable gaiety which is the spirit of the troops, a lump comes into my throat and I can’t talk about it. I think that the devil when he sees it must laugh with glee and the angels weep tor sheer pity.
(Milne’s interview, Vancouver World, 12 Sept 1917, 1)
Charles Milne was a gentleman militia officer with the 6th Duke of Connaught’s Own Regiment. Born in Huntly, Aberdeenshire, Scotland on 25 September 1866, he had served several years in the Gordon Highlanders before moving to Canada. In January 1916, he was authorized to raise the 158th Battalion from Vancouver.
Major A. Leslie Coote
47th (British Columbia) Battalion
Objecting to being relegated to duty in a safety zone while men he had recruited were “in the line”, Col. Coote entered a strenuous protest but militia trained senior officers were a drug on the market in England just then while juniors and men for the ranks were badly needed. This being the case, while hundreds of other Majors returned to Canada, Col. Coote resigned his commission, enlisted in the King Edward Horse as a trooper…
(Chilliwack Progress, 29 Apr 1920, 1)
Born in Tynemouth, England on 9 February 1868, Andrew Leslie Coote was a farmer and senior officer in the 104th Regiment. As second-in-command to Lieutenant Colonel W. N. Winsby in the 47th Battalion, Coote often assumed responsibility for the unit on the front when his superior was away at brigade conferences and headquarters meetings.
Lieutenant Colonel James D. Taylor, M.P.
131st (New Westminster) Battalion
Mr. Chairman, there is poison gas disseminated in connection with this war from other quarters than the trenches in the German line, and there is sniping equally disastrous to the cause of the war as that of the German sharpshooters. I am one of those colonels, commanding officers, of which the hon. gentlemen who act the part of political snipers in Canada speak so contemptuously in this House and through their press.
(J. D. Taylor, Debates, 6 Feb 1917, 565)
James Davis Taylor was a journalist and publisher in Ottawa and British Columbia and Conservative MP for New Westminster (1908—1917). He was born on 2 September 1863 in Abenaqui Mills, Canada East. During the Northwest campaign, he fought as a private with the Ottawa Sharpshooters at the battle of Cut Knife on 2 May 1885. After the Rebellion, he bought the Canadian Militia Gazette and later organized the 104th Militia Regiment in 1904. He led the 131st Battalion to England before returning to Canada in early January 1917.
Lieutenant Colonel Hugh Urquhart, D.S.O.
43rd (Cameron Highlanders of Canada) Battalion
There remains but to refer lightly to the characteristics typical of the Canadian soldier in that crisis which probed into the innermost recesses of character. This is not to claim that the Canadian possessed merits not shared by his comrades in arms everywhere; the soldierly virtues is the birthright of the true fighting man in all lands. But the soldiers of the Dominion exhibited those instincts in their own way. They were hidden under an exterior of independence, which sometimes misled the casual observer as to the soldierly spirit, potent in its strength, lying beneath this mask.
(Urquhart, History of the 16th Battalion CEF, 1932, 332)
A native of Scotland, Hugh McIntyre Urquhart was born on 13 August 1880 and immigrated to Canada in 1909. He originally enlisted with the 16th Battalion at Valcartier in August 1914. In recognition for his courage in the field, he was awarded the Military Cross and the Distinguished Service Order.
Brigadier General J. A. Clark, D.S.O.
72nd (Seaforth Highlanders) Battalion
“My Brigadier, the son of a bitch, is still alive— I’ll kill him if I see him.”
(Capt. W. G. Little, P.P.C.L.I., 1964)
Born in West Flamborough, Ontario on 8 June 1886, John Arthur Clark was a Vancouver barrister and militiaman. A major in the 72nd (Seaforth Highlanders of Canada) Regiment, Clark was appointed to command the 72nd Battalion, one of the few CEF units to perpetuate its militia designation. Commenting on the tremendous responsibility of a commanding officer one of his men observed that the twenty-nine year old colonel “looked forty.”
Lieutenant Colonel V. V. Harvey
54th (Kootenay) Battalion
In view of this incident I no longer have confidence in Lt-Col. HARVEY and I recommend that he be removed from the command of the 54th Battalion and returned to England where he may be otherwise employed. I would not again send the Battalion into action under his command.
(Gen. Odlum, 11th Brig. to 54th Bn., May 1917)
Between 11:00am on 21 May and 8:00am 22 May 1917, Valentine Vivian Harvey, his acting second-in-command, Jesse Wright, and the battalion adjutant went absent without leave from camp. For nearly a full day, the 54th Battalion was without its commanding officer. When General Odlum attempted to contact the 54th CO for a 11th Brigade meeting, Harvey was nowhere to be found.
Lieutenant Colonel A. B. Carey, D.S.O
102nd and 54th (Kootenay) Battalion
When his battalion was held up by intense machine-gun fire in front of a village, he organized a party from his reserve company and, under cover of the smoke from a derelict tank that was on fire, he personally led the party and rushed a wood, capturing sixteen machine guns, and routed the enemy, who retired on a broad front. He then pushed on his battalion and took the village with a rush. His example of personal gallantry, and his quick appreciation of the situation and rapid action, enabled this important result to be so successfully obtained.
(Carey, D.S.O. Bar citation, London Gazette, 7 Nov 1918, 13132)
A graduate of the University of Wisconsin, Alfred Blake Carey served in the 2nd Wisconsin Volunteers during the Spanish American War and the Remington Guards during the Boer War. He was born Blenheim, Ontario on 3 June 1881 and later worked as a civil engineer in British Columbia. In September 1915, he enlisted as a major with Lorne Ross’ 67th Pioneer Battalion. Continue reading
Lieutenant Colonel A. H. G. Kemball, D.S.O. †
54th (Kootenay) Battalion
So Kemball was ignored. That gallant officer—the adjective in his case is deserved—defied orders and refused to stay in the rear when his men were in peril. He led them personally on an attack he knew was futile.
(Pierre Burton, Vimy, 1986, 129)
Born in Belgaum, India on 4 January 1861, Arnold Henry Grant Kemball was a professional soldier with thirty-two years’ experience in the Indian Army. A veteran of the Gurkha Rifles, Kemball served in the Hazara Expedition (1888), the North West Frontier (1897) and Tirah Campaign (1898). He retired as commander of the 5th Gurkhas in 1910 and moved to British Columbia.
Lieutenant Colonel H. J. Rous Cullin
88th (Victoria Fusiliers) Battalion
Message from Victoria Fusiliers to Victoria: Keep on recruiting. The war is only just starting, it will go another two years. Fill up the 88th again. It has only sent a brigade so far. Make it a division before the war is over. Wake up, Victoria, and, organize both soldiering and business. Never mind the dollars— get the Hun!
(Cullin’s message to Daily Colonist, 6 June 1916)
Harold Joseph Rous Cullin was a British Columbia commercial architect. Born on 5 December 1875 in Liverpool, England, he was a cadet officer, cricket player, gymnast, member of the London Rifle Brigade and officer in the Royal Engineers. He immigrated to Canada in 1904.